Fight continues to save Skerries trees facing the chop

by Sylvia Pownall

Skerries man Shane Holland has vowed to continue his fight to save the town’s trees until the council finds a way to fix the footpaths without cutting them down.

An emergency meeting has been called after a tense stand-off last week in which protesters threatened to chain themselves to mature trees under threat.

The crunch talks are being held behind closed doors but will be crucial in deciding campaigners’ next move – and will be monitored by the Tree Council of Ireland.

Shane told Dublin Gazette: “We’ve had messages of support from towns and villages all over the country and people are watching this very carefully.

“The council has to realise they are not going to take down one third of our trees without proper consultation and agreement. That is just not going to happen.”

Locals rallied in support of Shane last week after a company contracted by Fingal County Council felled 10 mature trees in the town centre.

He threatened to chain himself to a Norwegian Maple earmarked for the chop outside his house on Church Street – as activists guarded others which were facing the axe.

Shane said: “It was a pretty strange thing diving at trees to try and stop them, but it was deadly serious and our backs were to the wall.

“I chained my van to the tree and stood my ground, and it was acknowledged by the gardai that I had a right to do so. The chainsaw contractors eventually left town, but we’re on tree patrol from early morning to dusk ever since.”

Fingal County Council claims residents were notified via fliers posted through their letterbox, but this has been refuted. Petitions in support of the campaign have so far garnered 2,700 signatures.

Shane said: “What they have done is illegal under Sections 37 and 40 of the Wildlife Act. We have photographic evidence of chicks being disturbed in nests, being thrown on the street and even thrown into the actual grinder.

“We understand that the footpaths have to be fixed but there are ways of doing it without taking the trees, even if it is more costly.”

The council wants to remove 19 street trees in all – mostly Norway Maple and London Plane – because of the damage caused by root systems to footpaths.

It says it has been left with no choice but to take the action in a bid to prevent spiralling injury compensation claims which it says trebled to €1.8million between 2010 and 2015 compared to e600,000 for the previous five years.

A council spokesperson said: “The decision to remove these trees was not taken lightly. The Tidy towns group, Chamber of Commerce and Skerries Liaison committee were informed of the works prior to commencement.”

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